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By Dr Harshavardhan Annadanam
Consultant Medical and Hemato Oncology
Published on 14/11/2022

Obesity or being overweight raises the chances of developing cancer!
Yes, you read it correctly! Being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of 13 types of cancer, including esophageal cancer, breast cancer (in menopausal women), colon and rectum cancer, uterus, upper stomach,liver,gallbladder, kidneys, pancreas,ovaries, thyroid cancer, meningioma (a type of brain cancer ), and multiple myeloma. Though there are various risk factors for cancer, smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are two of the most significant factors. Hormone levels, gene changes (called mutations), long-term infections, and prolonged alcohol use are all other risk factors. Being overweight or obese does not guarantee cancer, but it does increase one's chances of getting cancer compared to maintaining a healthy weight. Let's understand how obesity is linked to various types of cancers!

How Does Obesity Lead to Cancer?

Being overweight and obese can affect the body, which can lead to cancer. Examples of these changes include chronic inflammation and higher-than-normal amounts of sex hormones, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor. The risk of developing cancer increases with the level of extra weight a person gains and the period of time they are overweight.
Large and numerous visceral fat cells leave little room for oxygen. A low-oxygen atmosphere also promotes inflammation. The chronic inflammation brought on by excess visceral fat can injure the body and raise the risk of cancer.

Obesity can raise the risk of developing cancer for a number of reasons, including:

  • Obesity raises insulin and insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels, which can lead to the growth of some cancers.
  • Fat tissues also produce more oestrogen, which can contribute to the development of certain cancers, including breast cancer.
  • Obese people are more prone to suffer from persistent, low-grade inflammation, which has been related to elevated cancer risk.
  • Fat cells influence how the body regulates cancer cell growth.

Maintaining a healthy weight by eating a well-balanced diet and having regular exercise all contribute to cancer prevention.

Factors that avoid obesity and cancer!

Here is a list of factors that are to be followed to avoid obesity and cancer:

Maintain an average body weight:

A healthy weight should be maintained as it is one of the most crucial measures to prevent obesity and cancer. We have many options for managing most cancers and preventing weight issues. Research shows that just a few percent of cancers and weight issues are hereditary. Food, nutrition, exercise, and body composition all impact the risk factors in preventing most cancers and weight gain.

Engage in physical activity:

Physical activity in all its forms safeguards against certain cancers and weight gain. However, engaging in moderate exercises, like brisk walking, is recommended. As the fitness level rises, aim to engage in daily activities that are increasingly strenuous.

Reduce the calorie intake and stay away from sugary beverages:

Avoiding high calorie foods, such as fat-rich fast foods, processed foods like chips and candy bars, and even healthier choices like bagels, pretzels, and dried cereals, is the best way to prevent weight gain.

Consume plant-based foods:

Five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and relatively unprocessed whole grains or legumes with each meal are necessary. While low or relatively low in calories, fruits and vegetables include a large amount of dietary fiber and a range of micronutrients.

Reduce the intake of red meat, and avoid processed meat:

Red and processed meats are possible causes of stomach, colon, lung, esophagus, and prostate cancer. Moreover, high-fat diets are usually high in calories, which increases the risk of weight gain.

Limit alcoholic drinks:

Alcohol consumption has been linked to mouth, throat, colorectal, and liver cancer. Because heart disease is a considerably more significant factor in these populations, these low consumption levels are only connected with a lower risk of heart disease in middle-aged and older people

Limit salt consumption:

Salt is necessary for human health and life, although in considerably lower levels than are regularly consumed. Salt and salt-preserved foods promote some cancers, particularly stomach cancer. Processed foods with added salt should have no more than 2,400 mg of sodium per day.

Meet the nutritional needs only through food, not supplements:

Cancer preventive supplements may have unexpected adverse effects. The best source of nutrition is healthy food, not dietary supplements.

Mothers to breastfeed:

Breastfeeding benefits both mothers and children, according to cancer and other disease research.

Follow the cancer prevention recommendations for cancer survivors!

Cancer survivors (all cancer survivors, before, during, and after active treatment) should follow a healthy lifestyle.
Though multiple variables contribute to the risk of obesity, a healthy lifestyle that values exercise and diet can bring numerous other health benefits and minimize the risk of many health conditions such as obesity. Obesity should be avoided. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits, limit salt intake, and avoid fatty animal products and refined carbohydrates to lose weight. This is how cancer can be avoided.
However, if you have made lifestyle changes and are still gaining weight or struggling to reduce weight, it's time to consult a doctor.

Have A Healthy Weight, Be Healthy!